Monday, November 23, 2009

"...we were very disappointed."

It was going to happen at some point: an unhappy client. Well, in this case an unhappy mother of a client. She ordered a modest number of prints, but upon receipt found them to be unsatisfactory:

"The pictures came, but we were very disappointed in them."

I took a deep breath, in and out, then read on to the specifics. Her issues were largely well founded. Yes, that image was blurry. Yes, that image in the church was dark. Of course, they didn't get any blurrier or darker than the proofs she saw when she placed the order. And she didn't choose the plethora of well executed photographs tat were available to her. But her selection and expectation of spontaneous image improvement aside, the real issue is that I included photos in the proofing gallery that didn't meet my standards for technical merit.

Yes, I knew the image was blurry then, just like it is now. And I knew the other was too dark, just like it is now. Photoshop can only save the minor imperfections. It can't create clean, noiseless images from a near-lightless church with no artificial lighting allowed. It can't make the best smiles of the couple happen only on the sharpest of images.

So, some of the images the mother-in-law selected did not meet my technical standards. I shouldn't have included them in the gallery. But I received many opinions to the contrary. "Include them, they're cute, the couple might want them." That's the problem. They (or the mother-in-law) did want them. But they wanted the beautiful images they were imagining when they looked at my poorly botched photographs. Just Photoshop it? Really, no.

I learned a lesson. Yes, I'm still smarting from a client's criticism, but the lesson is still a fair and simple one I think: don't post images if they aren't good images. If I tried to take a photograph of an important moment, but only came away with a technically poor representation, I simply missed the moment. Sure, maybe in some spectacular forensic cases a blurry image could be worth a mint. But not at a wedding.

I have to be willing to accept that I either got the shot, or I didn't get the shot. As I get better at what I do, I hope the number of times I miss a shot declines. But when I miss the shot again, I most certainly will not wrap it in a bow of wishful thinking, sprinkle it with Photoshop filters, and post it for a client to purchase because "it was almost a cute shot".

I was my harshest critic. I'm back.

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